Ios Island Guide

Ios Island Overview

If you’ve heard of Ios, it’s probably the tiny Cycladic island’s reputation as a party destination for those seeking a cheaper and more pleasant alternative to Mykonos.

While it’s true that many young revellers descend on the island in peak season, particularly to the main beach resort of Mylopotas, this shouldn’t put you off visiting Ios as it’s a big island with something to offer everyone, and the nightlife is pretty self-contained. Ios has many excellent beaches, making it an ideal destination for anyone looking for a Greek island to relax and unwind.

Getting to Ios by Ferry

Ios has no airport but is on a popular north-south ferry route between Mykonos and Santorini, making it easily accessible over the summer tourist season. Use the search box below to find ferry ticket prices and availability:

The port is situated close to Chora in a small resort called Ormos. While it might seem tempting to walk to Chora, the ascent is quite steep, so if you’re travelling with luggage, it’s preferable to take the local bus to your accommodation rather than attempt it on foot.

We first visited in 2017 and found a bus waiting for the ferry on arrival. It only took 10 minutes to reach the nearby resort of Mylopotas, where the bulk of accommodation is located. There are regular buses throughout the day covering the main beaches and tourist resorts, though if you want to explore the island thoroughly, it’s better to rent transportation. The island is surprisingly large and can take some effort to explore due to its limited and winding road network.

Where to Stay on Ios

Unless you have a sufficient budget for the eye-wateringly expensive luxury Calilo resort, you’ll probably want to choose one of the following for your base on Ios:

Gialos Beach / Ormos (Port)

The port of Ormos blends into the spacious and unassuming beach resort of Gialos, where you’ll find a large, soft sand beach in a wide southwest-facing bay. Accommodation to suit most budgets can be found in every direction within walking distance of the beach/port. In 2023, we stayed at the Yialos Ios Hotel and loved the convenient location and proximity to shops and tavernas around the port and behind Gialos Beach.

A footpath up to Chora gets you to the island’s picturesque capital in 15 minutes, though it’s a steep and sweat-inducing climb during the heat of the day.

Ios Harbour Area
Ios port with Gialos Beach in the far left background and Chora to the far right

Chora

If you prefer a central location and don’t mind being further from the beach, Chora puts you in the heart of Ios, less than 10 minutes by bus in each direction to the port and the popular beach resort of Mylopotas. Both are walkable in 10-20 minutes, though, as mentioned above, it’s downhill to the beach but a fairly energetic walk back to Chora (our advice is to walk down, then use the regular and cheap bus service to get back!)

Ios Chora at sunset

Most accommodation isn’t within the centre of Chora, but either above or below it on the hillside, so you’ll need to walk a few minutes to get to the heart of the village. Still, there are plenty of shops and tavernas to be found, plus, of course, the vibrant nightlife of bars and clubs if you want to party through the night.

Church of Agios Georgios and Chapel of Agios Nikolaos at the summit of Ios Chora
Church of Agios Georgios and Chapel of Agios Nikolaos at the summit of Ios Chora

The church of Agios Georgios and Chapel of Agios Nikolaos at the summit of Ios Chora is a popular sunset spot, offering stunning views down to the port and Gialos Beach.

Stunning sunset view from the summit of Ios Chora down towards the port and Gialos Beach

Mylopotas

Mylopotas is a vast, golden sand beach resort in a wide bay just south of Chora. Despite its popularity, the sense of openness and peace is foremost, with only a small selection of tavernas and accommodation behind the beach. Most of the hotels and apartments are set on the hillside to the north. Far Out Beach Club offers a lively party atmosphere and cheap accommodation at the south end for those looking to max out on the nightlife offered on Ios.

The large, sandy beach resort of Mylopotas

Ios Map of Hotels, Beaches and Attractions

The interactive map below shows some of our favourite hotels, restaurants, beaches and places of interest on Ios. Click on the map markers below to see more details.

Ios Attractions and Things to Do

Despite its central location within the Cyclades, Ios remains unspoiled and traditional, with many superb sandy beaches dotted around the coastline and plenty of decent restaurants. Much of the island is barren and uninhabited, with most of the island’s population concentrated in Chora.

Homer’s Tomb

The most well-known attraction on the island is the Tomb of Homer, the supposed burial place of the Greek Poet and author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. Whether he was responsible for those works remains disputed, as does his actual death and burial on Ios. However, a small tomb and headstone dedicated to Homer can be found in a remote setting to the far northeast of the island here. It takes about 30 minutes by quad bike and slightly less by car or moped.

Ios Homer's Tomb
Ios Homer’s Tomb
Ios Homer's Tomb Headstone
Ios Homer’s Tomb Headstone

The site is a little underwhelming and not entirely worth the effort, except perhaps as an opportunity to explore the island. Two small sandy bays can be found nearby on the northern coast (both called Plakoto), but neither is comparable to the excellent selection of beaches elsewhere on the island.

Skarkos

The island’s only other tourist attraction is the remains of a bronze-aged settlement called Skarkos. Situated just a few minutes north of Chora, it’s easily accessible and worth visiting for a bit of Greek history.

Top-down aerial view of Skarkos

Ios Nightlife

The party atmosphere is mainly limited to the south end of Mylopotas Beach at the FarOut Beach Club, then into Chora, where a good selection of bars can be found down the small Cycladic streets. Things don’t get going in Chora until midnight and often continue until after sunrise.

Elsewhere, you’ll find EREGO Beach and Pathos clubs near Koumpara Beach around the bay west of the port. EREGO is open during the daytime and offers a pool with good music, cocktails and a restaurant. Pathos opens late afternoon with a superb sunset infinity pool and fantastic music. Both are more expensive, so if you’re looking to party on a budget, it’s better to stick to Chora or the more reasonably priced Far Out Beach Club at Mylopotas.

Pathos Club and Restaurant

Videos of Ios

Check out our video guide of Ios recorded in the summer of 2021:

Ios Conclusions and Alternatives

Ios is definitely an island of two opposites: you can come here for a relaxing, traditional Greek experience and enjoy good food and superb beaches while soaking up the Mediterranean sun, or you can sleep in until noon, grab a few hours by the beach or pool and then party from dusk until dawn. Whichever you choose, Ios really does deliver. After four visits in six years, it’s one of our favourite summer destinations.

If you’re looking for alternatives to Ios, it depends on what aspect of the island you’re most connected to. The only obvious candidate for nightlife is Mykonos, though we’re not a big fan due to its high prices and over-popularity. Good nightlife can be found on other Greek islands, for example, Malia on Crete, Kavos on Corfu and Laganas on Zante, to name just a few.

Those looking for a quieter and more typical Greek island experience should check out nearby Folegandros, Amorgos or our favourite island, Sifnos.

Ios Blog Posts

Find out more about Ios by reading blog posts from our recent visits:

  • Yialos Ios Hotel, Gialos, Ios

    Yialos Ios Hotel, Gialos, Ios

    Review Rating: 4/5 Website: https://www.yialosioshotel.gr/ Date of Visit: July 2023 Introduction Yialos Ios is a small/medium-sized, family-run hotel located in a quiet spot just a short walk from the main…

    Read more…

  • Koumpara Beach

    Koumpara Beach

    Koumpara Beach Situated in its own wide bay, just around a headland from the port of Ios, Koumpara is a popular beach due to its soft sand and shallow sea….

    Read more…

  • Kalamos Beach

    Kalamos Beach

    Kalamos Beach Located on the eastern coastline towards the southern end of Ios, Kalamos Beach is a wide stretch of slightly coarse golden sand. Access to the beach is via…

    Read more…

  • Tris Ekklisies Beach

    Tris Ekklisies Beach

    Tris Ekklisies Beach Located on the southeast coast of Ios on the way to Magganari beach, you’ll find two small beaches known as Tris Ekklisies. Seemingly accessible from the road…

    Read more…

  • Plakotos Beach

    Plakotos Beach

    Plakotos Beach There are two beaches on the north coast of Ios which share the name Plakotos. The first and easternmost is a small, mostly sandy beach. When we visited…

    Read more…

  • Days 48 & 49: Last Two Days on Ios

    Days 48 & 49: Last Two Days on Ios

    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Friday 5th August 2022 Just Chilling Out I’m combining my last two days on Ios into a single update again…

    Read more…

  • Day 47: Southern Ios – Tris Ekklisies, Magganari, Kalamos and Chora

    Day 47: Southern Ios – Tris Ekklisies, Magganari, Kalamos and Chora

    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Thursday 4th August 2022 Filling in the Gaps I completed my exploration of northern Ios yesterday, so it was time…

    Read more…

  • Days 45 & 46: Exploring Northern Ios

    Days 45 & 46: Exploring Northern Ios

    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Day 45: Tuesday 2nd August 2022 Another Quiet Day I started off the morning with some productive work from my…

    Read more…

  • Day 44: Ios Mylopotas Relaxation

    Day 44: Ios Mylopotas Relaxation

    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Monday 1st August 2022 A New Month Begins As July turns into August, I awoke feeling reflective on my time…

    Read more…

  • Day 43: Amorgos to Ios

    Day 43: Amorgos to Ios

    This post is part of a series called Greece 2022 Sunday 31st July 2022 An Early Start to the Day I usually try to take ferries late in the morning…

    Read more…

More blog posts

Ios AccommodationIos Beaches

Share this content